Hobbit Tales: shire-based storygaming

The other day I got the chance to try out Hobbit Tales from Cubicle 7, a card-based game that isn’t really card-based at all. Sure, it uses cards, but the real meat of the game comes from the players. The cards you get are story elements, settings and twists in the tale, and you have to take the hand you are dealt and come up with a story that fits as much as it entertains.

You might be starting to see why this game appealed to me.

But it’s not perfect. The game tries a little too hard to be a game in places, I feel. The player telling the story gets a hand of cards they need to turn into the story, but the opening and ending are chosen separately. On my turn I got a hand which had a very good opening card (the discovery of an old map) but instead I was stuck with starting with walking down a road instead, which is still a valid opening but much weaker in my opinion.

The other players can interrupt your story with cards from a separate deck, which sounded like fun when I heard about it at the start when we were going over the rules, but in practice it was tricky. Players would triumphantly slap down their cards, telling the storyteller “but wait, weren’t you caught in a sudden landslide?” Except then they had to roll a die to see if that happened, and trying to beat 7 on a die with 12 sides that goes from 1-10 with an extra pair of “instant success/instant failure” icons… that’s tricky. Throughout four rounds of the game I think we only just about got four of the interrupt cards down. I wasn’t successfully interrupted once on my turn, thanks to people rolling 2 or 3.

There is an optional rule that lets you pass on the dice-rolling, which I will have to try next time, but despite these flaws, it was a very fun game. For anyone who enjoys telling stories, or is just interested in learning more, I think I’d definitely recommend it. Just be prepared to improvise a lot, and beware of the Goblin With A Huge Head.